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Colour plates by MI CHAEL ROFFE

Colour plates by MICHAEL ROFFE
~ .
Published in 1975 by
Osprey Publishing Ltd, 12 14 Long Acre,
London WC2 E 9LP
Member Company of the George Philip Group
Copyright 1975 Osprey Publishing Ltd
This book i copyrighted under the Berne
Convention. All rights reserved. Apart from any
fair dealing for the purpose of private study,
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ISBN 0 850 45 247 3
Printed in Great Britain
Filmset by BAS Printers Limited,
Wallop, Hampshire
Colour by Barnicotts Ltd., Taunton, Somerset
At the end of the Royalist regime, the artillery arm
of the French army was, as Napoleon was later
to declare, ' ... the finest and best composed corps
in Europe.' The future emperor was not only
commenting on the esprit de corps of the highly
trained officers and men, all versed in the scientific
art of gunnery; but also on the equipment,
designed in a sturdy, simple, yet interchangeable
form by the great master of artillery, Jean Baptiste
de Gribeauval as far back as 1768.
The new constitution drawn up in 1790 made
it obligatory for officers and men of the French
army to swear an oath of allegiance or to resign.
A number of the more senior and experienced
officers and men were thereby lost, leaving the
artillery sadly depleted. The only remedy was
promotion from the ranks, but whereas the more
experienced non-commissioned officers had de-
tailed knowledge of gunnery, they at first lacked
the necessary quality of leadership. There were
few brilliant junior artillery officers who would
take and use their own initiative in battle, al-
though a number of outstanding senior officers
rose from the ranks.
On 29 October 1790, the Artillery became a
permanent arm of the service rather than a
'useful auxiliary' as Count Jacques de Guibert
had written in his Essai general de tactique (1772).
In 1791, the artillery was composed of seven
regiments, each oftwo battalions often companies;
and in that year the regiments altered their titles
from the names of the places where they were
raised to numbers, and the soldiers became
canonniers or gunners. On I January 1791 the
regiments received numbers: 1st La Fere, 2nd
Metz, 3rd Besanc;on, 4th Grenoble, 5th Stras-
bourg, 6th Auxonne, and 7th Tou!. The twenty
companies of each regiment were organised into
five brigades each offour companies. The Artillery
of 179 I also had its complement of six companies
of sappel'1l and ten of artificers with a peacetime
effective of 8,663 men. It is interesting to note
that by 18 I 4 the Artillery of apoleon's Grande
Armee had risen to over 103,000 men.
apoleon, himself an artilleryman, did not
bring anything new to the equipment of French
artillery, nor did he add to its scientific knowledge
by invention as did Congreve in Britain; but he
did bring a new use of artillery which up until at
least 1808 gave him a marked superiority over
his enemies. In any battle, it is not possible to
'Napoleon at the battery'. FroDl Horace Vernet's drawing of
Napoleon aiding in the loading of a field gun during the
siege of Toulon, 1793
A field gun with detachtnent in action during the battle of
Rivoli in the Italian caDlpaign, 1797. FrODl a drawing by
Horace Vernet
divorce the artillery from the total conflict and it
was precisely this planned complementary use
that won Napoleon his early victories. The
European Powers against whom he was engaged
still clung to the time-honoured drill and fighting
tactics ofFrederick the Great; whereas the French,
by their audacity and disregard of the old ways,
soundly defeated the Prussians and Austrians in
r 792 and the coalition of Austria, Prussia, Spain,
Sardinia, Holland and Great Britain the following
On 7 February r 792 a horse artillery branch
of the Artillery was formed and designated the
Artillierie Legere, which, like the British and Prussian
equivalent, had its men mounted rather than on
foot. The prime role of this light artillery was to
support cavalry and infantry while manreuvring,
especially at this early stage of the Revolutionary
Wars against the Austrian cavalry who were far
superior to the equivalent arm of the French
forces. The light artillery or horse artillery con-
sisted of nine regiments of six batteries, each
composed of four officers and seventy-two men,
with six to eight guns, usually 4 or 8 pdrs, and
two howitzers. Each piece was entirely in the
hands of civilian contractors, who furnished the
horses and drivers; and companies such as
Baudouin and Lancherc - large haulage con-
tractors - usually performed this task for the
Artillery. This system of contracted drivers and
horses had been in use in most European countries
since the Middle Ages and had been condemned
time and time again by artillery officers, as it
lacked efficiency and there were often cases of
drivers retiring with their horses when things
became difficult during a battle, leaving the guns
stranded. The contract-drivers were a poor lot -
'Continuellement sans pain, sans solde, sans habits,. et
leurs chevaux sans fourrage, sans fer, et sans harnais'
(continually without bread, without pay, without
clothing; and their horses without forage, withou t
horseshoes and wi thou t harness). Louis XV had
attempted to organise contract-drivers and had
decreed that they were to wear blue smocks and
bonnets of red and blue, but the organisation and
quality of the drivers and their horses was poor.
In r 799, much to the disgust of some officers, First
Consul Bonaparte directed General Lespinasse
to report on the proposed formation of a corps of
drivers to be enlisted. The critics of this scheme
considered that by enlisting drivers one degraded
by association the name ofsoldiers; but Bonaparte
went ahead and on 3 January r800 an artillery
train was formed who did duty as drivers, bringing
guns and wagons to the place of action and
retiring until needed. This system was also adopted
in Britain and was soon found to be a great im-
provement over the artillery's old way of taking
the field.
If improvements had been made in the
organisation and to a certain extent in the
equipment, they had also been made in scientific
'The hattle of the Pyramids' by L. F. Lejeune, showing the
massed infantry squares and the artillery pieces in action.
1798 (Musee de Versailles)
Field gun with antntunition liD1ber shown open. Note the
handles each side for the gunners to hold on to when riding
on the lintber. This can be seen on page 20. (Musee de
instruction. The new schools at Chalons, Metz
and the Ecole polytechnique in Paris not only
admitted officers, as had been the practice of the
Royalist schools of artillery, but also non-
commissioned officers and men, to learn mathe-
matics and to receive general instruction in the
science of gunnery. This education resulted in the
French non-commissioned officer having a greater
degree of theoretical knowledge than his British
counterpart, who relied more on the directions
and orders of his officer.
The main difference in artillery recruiting was
that all levied volunteers entered the regiment as
individual recruits and not as complete units as
was the custom in the rest of the French army.
In the artillery of the Republic, the Consulate,
and later of the Empire, great emphasis was
placed on technical training of all ranks, and a
high standard was mandatory for officers com-
manding artillery.
As in other armies, French infantry battalions
had their complement oflight field pieces, usually
four to a battalion; but in 1795 apoleon's
emphasis on massed artillery reduced these guns
to two per battalion and in 1803 they were done
away with completely. apoleon, however, stated
that'Tous les jours, je me convaincres du grand mal
qu' on aJait a nos armees en otant les pieces de regiment.'
(Every day, I convince myself of the great harm
done to our armies by the suppression of regi-
mental guns.) The Emperor was later to declare
that 'Les canon commes toutes les autres armes doit
etre reunir en masse, si l' on veut obtenir un resultat
important.' (Artillery, like other weapons, ought
to be united in mass if one wishes to obtain an
important result.) In 1809, however, in direct
opposi tion to this princi pie, Napoleon ordered
battalion guns to be restored to reinforce and
bolster his new, untried and raw infantry bat-
talions. In 1812 regimental guns were finally
In 1795 the number ofhorsc artillery regiments
was reduced to eight and the establishment fixed
at 20,000 men. At the end of the year the artillery
possessed 4,816 bronze siege pieces, 2,851 iron
pieces of position and 2,543 fi Id pi es; but,
sadly, the artillery lacked some 30,000 horses,
which greatly hindered and imped d the use of
the major part of the field pi ces.
Heavy siege piece and limber, showing the barrel positioned
in the 'travelling' trunnion hole. (Musee de l'Armee)
At the end of 1799 Napoleon was created
Premier Consul (First Consul), and continued to
pressure his generals and arsenals for increased
production of arms and perfection and advance-
ment in the artillery. 'Du canon! du canon! il faut
du canon!' (Cannon! cannon! we must have
cannon!) He ordered one general to 'Occupez-
vous avec le plus grande activite de l' artillerie, c' est ce
qui retarde toujours et ce dont on n' a jamais assez.'
(Concern yourself with the utmost activity on the
artillery, as it is this which is always behind and
of which we never have enough.) For some years
the artillery of the Gribeauval system had come
under harsh criticism, and Napoleon set up the
Commission extraordinaire du materiel d' artillerie under
the presidency ofMajor-General Auguste Frederic
Louis Marmont, himself an expert and a graduate
of the artillery school at Metz, to advise on what
improvements could be made to the system. By
the time Napoleon created himself Emperor in
1804 and formed his Grande Armee, whieh extended
the French hold over Europe, a number of im-
provements and modifications had been made to
the equipment.
~ t i l l e r y Equipment
The system of artillery established by Jean-
Baptiste Vaquette de Gribeauval (1715-89) and
the First Inspector-General of Artillery (Premier
Inspecteur General d' Artillerie) relied on simplicity
and sturdiness of construction, a limited number
of calibres of a fixed barrel length, and inter-
changeability as far as possible. Gribeauval had
not only theoretical but also practical knowledge
of artillery, having returned in 1763 from
Germany, where he had commanded the Austrian
artillery in the field and had studied the organisa-
tion of the Prussian artillery. It was not until the
death of Valiere, whose system had been in use
for many years, that Gribeauval was able to show
the advantages of the equipment he had designed,
and its lightness when compared with the
cumbersome guns of VaIi ere. The basic system of
fixed calibres of fixed lengths had been established
by Louis XV in 1732 and both Valiere and
Gribeauval followed these standards.
The field artillery equipment consisted of 4, 8
and 12 pdr guns with 6 and 8 pdr howitzers,
while the siege and position artillery consisted
of 12, 16 and 24 pdr guns and 24 pdr howitzers.
The carriages for field artillery pieces and
ordnance used by the horse artillery were of a
similar construction. The carriages were made
of two suitably shaped pieces of wood or 'cheeks'
parallel to each other and joined with horizontal
sections of wood. At the front, the lower part of
the 'cheeks' was bolted to the axle tree to which
the wheels were fitted, and the rear portion of the
carriage was specially shaped to sit firmly on the
ground. Various parts of the carriage which were
liable to hard wear were reinforced with iron
strapwork held by square-headed bolts, and the
barrel was fitted to the carriage by means of its
trunnions (horizontal round projections at the
point of balance) resting in iron-reinforced
trunnion holes. The barrel was kept firmly in
place by closing over the trunnions a thicker
shaped metal strap known as a 'capsquare', held
by a hinge one end and a loop and pin the other.
In the heavier calibre pieces there were two sets
of trunnion holes, one set behind the other, the
first being for the firing position, the second being
for travelling when the carriage was limbered up.
The limber consisted of an axle tree and wheels,
with a pintle in the centre of the cross bar which
fitted through a metal-reinforced eye in the trail
of the carriage. The carriage was also fitted with
various bars and loops for manhandling and for
stowage ofdrag ropes, rammers, buckets and other
equipment. Ammunition was carried for ready
use in a metal-reinforced box with two carrying
bars, one each end, which rested behind the
barrel between the 'cheeks'. The rest of the
ammunition was usually carried in caissons which
accompanied each gun - two for the 4 pdrs, three
for the 8 pdrs and five for the 12 pdrs - although
on occasions an ammunition limber was used for
horse artillery pieces. Besides the ammunition
wagons there was a large 'train' of wagons and
carts for spare parts, spare barrels and wheels,
artificer's tools and farrier's equipment, as well as
mobile forges.
Howitzer carriages, although maintaining the
same overall construction and appearance, dif-
fered from gun carriages in having a slightly
Gribeauval systeDl howitzer on carriage. Note the various
sidearDls strapped to the left cheek of the carriage. (Musee
de l'ArDlee)
ADlDlunition, spare wheel wagon and liDlber. Spare wheel
wagons were an essential part of any artillery reserve as
either the rough terrain or the daDlage in action rendered
this the Dlost valuable cODlponent of the gun carriage.
(Musee de l'ArDlee)
shorter trail. Position guns and artillery for
coastal defence and fixed fortifications were also
of an interchangeable nature and were of various
styles, garrison standing carriages being mounted
on slide and traversing b ds. The Gribeauval
system also had various calibres of mortars which
were mounted on wood or cast-iron 'beds', as
their role was not one of mobility and they were
transported when necessary on wagons.
I t is necessary to the understanding of the use
of artillery during the Napoleonic Wars to know
exactly how the pieces were loaded, primed and
fired, as it was these somewhat cumbersome
operations which dictated the limits of the use of
artillery in the field. As soon as the piece arrived
at its appointed position, the gun was unlimbered
and the team driven a short distance to the rear.
The ammumtlon locker was removed from the
trail and opened. The 'number I' - normally a
First Class Gunner or Corporal - gave the order
'Chargn:.!', the only order given with respect to
loading, so well did the gunners know their drill.
This emphasis on gun drill was insisted upon by
officers of the Artillery, and to ensure rapidity
and exactness gunners and recruits were drilled
on the parade ground to perform the movements
in complete silence and in perfect time. This
automation helped the French artillery attain an
extremely high standard of gun drill under fire,
and contributed to the superiority of the French
artillery during Napoleon's European campaigns.
I t is easier to understand the gun drill if one
imagin'es that the first shot has already been fired,
as guns usually came into action loaded. In
position, there would be two gunners forward of
the axle tree, one each side and two behind the
axle tree. Again one each side, with' umber I'
behind the trail to direct movement (the pointeur) ,
and a gunner to the left of the breech who 'served
the vent'.
s soon as the shot was fired, the spongeman
dipped the ecouvillon (a rammer with sponge on
one end and rammer on the other) into the water
bucket and swabbed out the bore to remove any
burning particles from the previous round. The
chargeur, his opposite number in front of the axle
tree, placed the powder charge or fixed round into
the bore and stood back. The porte ecouvillon
(spongeman) reversed the rammer and pushed
the charge home while the gunner 'serving the
vent' placed his thumb, suitably protected by a
thumbstall, over the vent as a final precaution
against possible sudden compression in the bore
which resulted if the ramming re-kindled any
particle that had remained after the swabbing.
Iffixed ammunition was not used, the projectile
would be loaded next and rammed home to seat
on the charge; but in battle the powder and charge
were often put in one after another and rammed
home with one movement, thus speeding up the
rate of fire considerably. The gunner 'serving
the vent' would make any adjustments to the
elevation required, after which correction of line
of fire would be done by manhandling the
wheels and moving the trail with handspikes.
The gunner behind the wheel on the left would
pierce the powder bag by passing a pricker down
Left: Garrison standing carriage on a slide and traversing
carriage as used in coastal forts and garrisons. This carriage
can be seen in use in the background on page 17. (Musee
de I"ArlDee)
the vent and would then 'prime' the vent with
ei ther a tube of priming powder or loose powder.
On the command 'Fire!' the opposite number
would plunge a burning port-fire on to the vent,
igniting the priming agent which in turn lit the
main charge. Before the order to fire was given,
gunners behind the axle tree stood well back to
avoid injury from the recoil of the piece. The gun
or howitzer would then have to be manhandled
back into its previous position to be re-loaded.
The French pieces were more cumbersome
than those of the Bri tish, especially the 9 pdr guns
of the Royal Horse Artillery which employed the
Congreve 'block' or solid trail as opposed to the
double bracket carriage. As the battle wore on
and casualties reduced the detachment or fatigue
became acute, gunners would frequently neglect
to haul the guns back into position. At Waterloo
one British gunner officer summed up this situation
familiar to all gunners when he wrote ' ... the
depth of the ground and the exhausted state of
the few men remaining at the guns had latterly
prevented the possibility of running them up after
each round, so that when the action cea ed their
recoils had brought them together in a confused
Above: Four-wheeled field forge, and indispensible piece of
equiplDent for artillery on calDpaign away froID central
depots. (Musee de I'ArlDee)
heap.' The fatigue of the gunners can be under-
stood easily when one considers that the 1'2 pdr
Gribeauval field gun weighed I t tons.
In battle, care was taken not to have too many
rounds of powder charges near the guns in case
of a hit by an enemy shell, and soldiers were de-
tailed to bring up powder charges and shot from
caissons stationed some way behind the battery
they served. The ammunition used for field
artillery was round shot and shell, but when in
close contact with the enemy case and grape shot
were much more damaging, particularly against
massed troop formations.
Round shot was a solid cast-iron ball of a pre-
determined size to fit a piece of a fixed calibre;
the shell was similarly a cast shot, but hollow and
filled with a bursting charge and fuse to fragment
the case a certain time after firing. Shot was always
cast slightly smaller than the bore of the piece it
was intended for and this difference was known
as the 'windage'. It allowed the round to be more
easily loaded and had no noticeable effect on
velocity. Each of the above projectiles was usually
fitted with a wooden base or ' abot' which was
held by iron strapping; this prevented the ball
from turning over in the bore when fired and
allowed a charge to be fitted to it to make 'fixed
ammunition'. The serge bag containing the
powder charge was opened at one end and the
sabot seated in and then tied firmly with cord.
Any projectile fitted with a 'sabot' could be used
for fixed ammunition.
Case shot consisted of a container filled with
musket balls and scraps of iron. At Waterloo the
French are said to have used case shot filled with
horseshoe nails. It was most effective against
charging men and horses. Grape shot was also
used but in this projectile the musket balls were
symmetrically arranged around a core in a canvas
bag which was then tied with cord and tarred.
Its appearance, similar to a bunch of grapes,
gave it its name.
Round shot, although not explosive, was
deadly in its effect - especially on dry ground
where it could hit and bound forward to do more
Above: Grape shot in its painted canvas bag with charge.
This forDl of aDlDlunition was in CODlDlon use in the artnies
of Europe and about the only effective answer against
Dlassed bodies of troops. (Kungl. ArDleDluseum)
Left: Shell fitted to a wood 'sabot' with iron straps. Note
the threaded fuze hole. (Kungl. ArDlemuseUDl)
damage. A British surgeon noted that the French
round shot ' ... appears to bound like a cricket
ball; and we are only likely to establish its force
by the manner in which it ploughs up the ground.
A poor Irish lad of the Twenty-seventh Regiment
was silly enough to call out to his comrades
"Stop it, boys!"; and to endeavour to stop it with
his foot, which was smashed to pieces so as to
render amputation necessary.'
An officer of the 40th. Regiment remembered at
Waterloo seeing a round shot from the French
batteries which' ... took off the head of Captain
Fisher near me, and striking his company on the
left flank put hOTS de combat more than twenty-five
men. This was the most destructive shot I ever
witnessed during a long period of service.'
French shells also wrought havoc when they
actually exploded - not an invariable event, as
French fuses were so bad. Captain Mercer, Royal
Horse Artillery, noted that they spluttered on
the ground where they landed before exploding
but did no serious harm, although 'harassing
and inconvenient'. Soldiers sometimes kicked
the fuses out of the shells to render them harmless,
while others picked them up and tossed them
aside. Case shot and grape were hardly effective
beyond 300 yards and rarely used over 200.
One projectile the French did not possess was the
spherical case shot, later named Shrapnel after
its inventor. This hollow shot filled with musket
balls and a suitably fused bursting charge gave
the British artillery a decided advantage. For-
tescue, the famous historian, noted that ' ... A
single Shrapnel shell had been known to kill
every horse in a gun team even at long range.
The French hated it because they could not reply
to it. ... Shrapnel, in fact, had a great deal more
to do with beating the French than he received
credit for. ... '
Besides the destructive qualities of the pro-
jectiles there was also its psychological effect on
men under fire. With the velocity at that time, it
was possible to see the projectiles in flight;
and closeness of combat also made it possible to
see the French artillery loading and firing. Ensign
Leeke of the 52nd Regiment, when aged only
seventeen, saw the French gunners 'at Waterloo
sponging out the barrel prior to reloading and
saw it pointed at his square. ' .... When it was
discharged I caught sight of the ball which
appeared to be in a direct line for me. I thought,
shall I move? No. I gathered myself up and stood
firm ... I do not know the rapidity with which
cannonballs fly, but I think that two seconds
elapsed from the time I saw this shot leaving the
gun until it struck the front face of the square.
.. .' This shot hit four men. While shells could
kill and maim when they exploded, round shot
bounded and smashed its way through the ranks
by its sheer velocity, cutting men in half and
decapitating others. Physically and psychologic-
ally it was a 'man stopper'.
Small portable field forge usually carried on a cart or
dismantled and stored in the spare wheel wagon. (Musee de
I Armee)
The committee assembled on the command of
the First Consul, Napoleon, deliberated on the
problems and drawbacks of the Gribeauval
system, which had also been adopted by the
Spanish and Bavarian artilleries. Members ad-
vocated the lightening of the field pieces and a
general revision of the calibres in use, the reduction
in number of the various sized wheels and the
creation of a mountain artillery, amongst other
things. The committee continued, however, to
study the various problems seriously when the
First Consul pressed for some material result. In
1803, as a consequence of this pressure, the com-
mittee recommended the manufacture of a 6 pdr
field gun courte de campagne, designated System An.XI
(Year eleven of the Republican Calendar -
September 23 1803/04). The calibre was chosen
to combat the problem of the lightness of the 4 pdr
and the heaviness of the 8 pdr and also as a
convenient means of using the large supplies of
carriages, shot, shell and pieces captured from
the enemies of France, who nearly all adhered to
the system used by the British (i.e. 3,6,9 and 12
pdr field pieces). The French 6 pdr, which was
rushed into production without trials and which
utilised the carriages and equipment of the
Gribeauval system to maintain interchangeability,
was soon receiving adverse comments from the
artillery, and reports of its poor performance and
the quality of manufacture soon reached the
committee. Eventually the short 6 pdr was
abandoned. The System An.XI did, however,
reduce the number of sizes of wheels for field
artillery to three, and regulated the types of
pieces for the various artillery formations. Moun-
tain artillery were to have 3 and 6 pdrs (short) and
a light 24 pdr howitzer capable of being carried
on sleds or packed on mules; siege and fortress
artillery were to have 12 and 24 pdr guns and a
24 pdr field howitzer, while the Coastal artillery
were to have 24 and 36 pdrs and mortars.
The wood carriages of the Gribeauval system
were painted a shade of 'dirty green' by mixing
2,500 grammes of yellow ochre with 30 grammes
of black paint, although the Bavarians who
joined Napoleon in 1809 preferred to paint their
carriages a shade of ligh t blue. Brass barrels were
Gyn for lifting off or placing on barrels on their carriages.
(Musee de l'
usually kept dull on campaign, and metal and iron
fittings on the carriages were painted black. The
usual complement of horses was six in pairs in
pole draught (although some carriages employed
shafts when a single horse or one in front of
another were used). In the French Artillery the
two rear horses were harnessed to the single
central pole with the other four horses joined to
the central pole by harness and traces to the bars
on the front end of the pole.
To keep pace with the constant demand for
more weapons and pieces of artillery, factories
were set up all over France. In Paris alone there
were 258 ironworks, and cannon workshops were
established in barges on the River Seine. A large
gunpowder factory was constructed in the Grenelle
plain to supply the needs of the army and a
national search was undertaken for sources of
Top: Garrison gun on a two-wheel and rear truck carriage
mounted on a recoil platform.. (Musee de I'Armee)
Above: Ammunition wagon (Musee de l'
saltpetre, the main ingredient for gunpowder.
Bronze for casting cannon was obtained by any
means. Church bells were requisitioned and a
large traffic was set up via Swi tzerland, exchanging
oxen for bronze. The oxen eventually ended up
feeding the Austrian army! This rapid increase in
armaments did not run smoothly; inexperienced
casters, fraudulent factory owners and mis-
appropriation of metal resulted in large numbers
of faulty or defective pieces reaching the artillery.
To remedy this an engineer officer, Prieur de la
Cote-d'Or, was ordered to co-ordinate the nation's
arms effort. By his strenuous efforts a fairly
efficient system had been established by the time
apoleon created himself Emperor of the French
in 1804.
apoleon considered that an army could never
have too many pieces of artillery and 'L'action
massee de L' artillerie est seuLe capabLe d' amener La
decision.' (The massed action of artillery alone is
capable of deciding the outcome.)
{9rganisation ofthelmperial
~ r t i l l e r y 1804-1815
In May 1804 the French senate voted apoleon
Emperor of the French, a title confirmed by a
public plebiscite - and the seal was set on eleven
years of turmoil in Europe. The Artillery was
one of the most complex of organisations and at
the beginning of the Empire consisted of the
Artillery of the Guard, eight foot regiments, six
hor.;e regiments, eight battalions of artillery
train, two battalions of pontonniers or bridge
builders, fifteen companies of artificers, thirteen
companies of veteran gunners, 130 coastal com-
panies and seventeen Colonial companies (created
in April 1804 to defend French colonies).
One of the crack units of the Imperial army, one
f the most richly dressed and best horsed, was
created in April 1806 from the light artillery of
the Consular Guard formed in November 1799.
This was the ArtiLlerie achevaL de La Garde, which
obtained the pick of men and materials. Its skill
and manreuvrability was unsurpassed in the
Artillery and the pointeurs, the' umber I s' of the
guns, frequently had fifteen to twenty years
service and were experts in their art. Every year
a contest was held between the best of gunners,
some of whom were able to fire three rounds a
minute, no mean feat when one considers the
complicated loading drill previously described.
The horse artillery of the Guard consisted of
three squadrons, each of two companies composed
of ninety-seven officers, non-commissioned officers
and men. In 1808 the Horse Artillery of the
Guard was reduced to two squadrons, but was
augmented in 1813 by the inclusion of a Young
Guard company. In July 1814 it was disbanded,
but on Napoleon's return from Elba was hastily
reformed, four companies strong each with six
The ArtiLlerie apied de La Garde was not formed
until April 1808 and consisted of six companies
of gunners and a company of ouvriers-pontonniers
responsible for bridge building. The establish-
ment of the artillery companies was fixed at four
officers, ten non-commissioned officers, twenty
first-class gunners, forty-eight gunners and two
drummers. In 1809, a further three companies
were added by the creation of the Young Guard
companies. The ArtiLlerie apied de La Garde reached
its peak in 1813, consisting of six Old Guard
companies, sixteen Young Guard companies and
a company of ouvriers-pontonniers. When apoleon
returned from Elba, the ArtiLlerie apied de La Garde
only managed to muster six companies.
The Horse Artillery of the Line was six regi-
ments strong in 1804 but increased to seven in
18IO by the addition of two companies of Dutch
horse artillery incorporated into the French
army. No sooner was this done than the 7th
regiment was disbanded and the various com-
panies absorbed by the I st and 4th regiments.
Usually each regiment consisted of six companies
plus a depot company. The Foot Artillery of the
Line had eight regiments in 1804 and was
increased to nine in 1810 when it absorbed the
Dutch artillery. Originally each regiment con-
sisted of twenty-two companies, but by 1813 the
number increased to twenty-eight.
Besides the Horse and Foot Artillery of the
Guard and Line, there were a number of other
units which made up the functional artillery arm.
Besides the Artillery Train, there were the various
companies of veterans and garrison gunners and
the Canonniers garde cotes, the coastal gunners who
manned the various coastal installations and
fortifications. By the time of the First Empire,
this force had grown to 145 companies of 121
men and two officers, plus nineteen companies of
veterans and thirty-three companies of garrison
Spare wheel wagon open showing anllnunition stored
inside. (Musee de l'Annee)
Making the Jtlodel for casting ordnance. One of the nUJtl-
erous coJtlplicated and tiJtle consuJtling tasks necessary for
the Jtlanufacture of ordnance. Here the workJtlen are
gunners. The Artillery Train of the Line boasted
ten battalions in 1804 rising to fourteen in 18 I 0
with the inclusion of the Dutch artillery train.
The Train des equipages of the Line and Guard,
not to be confused with the Train, fielded twenty-
two battalions in 1812 (including an ambulance
battalion) and had sole charge over drivers,
repair of material, care of the harness and
equipment, supervision of the artillery park and
supply wagons. In 1812, the Battalion du Train des
equipages de la Garde was formed to supply the
same service to the Artillery of the Guard. The
three companies divided their work of supervising
transport of the Guard, the first in charge of
baggage, documents and forges, the second in
charge of the ambulances and the third in charge
of the commissary wagons. The entire unit
comprised just over 800 officers and men.
In 181 I the Imperial Artillery consisted of
nine foot regiments of twenty-two companies, six
horse artillery regiments of seven companies (the
6th regiment had eight) twenty-seven Train
battalions of six companies, seventeen companies
shaping the Jtlodel Jtlade froJtl a Jtlixture of sand and horse
dung placed on a forJtler and shaped with a teJtlplate. FroJtl
this Jtlodel a Jtlould was Jtlade to take the Jtlolten Jtletal
of pontonniers, nineteen companies of artificers,
and five companies of armourers representing a
total effective of over 8,000 officers and men, not
including the nineteen companies ofveterans and
178 companies of coastal gunners which added
up to a further 20,000 men. The artillery was
distributed in the army as follows. Each infantry
division had attached to it a foot artillery com-
pany equipped with six 6 pdrs and two howitzers,
plus a company of horse artillery with four 6 pdrs
and two howitzers whose role was to arrive at an
arranged position and open fire, giving the foot
gunners time to march up. The reserve for an
army corps consisted of two foot divisions of six
cannon of 12 pdr calibre and two howitzers, plus
the artillery park. A horse artillery battery was
attached to every light cavalry division and two
batteries to a heavy cavalry division, while the
Artillery of the Guard formed the entire reserve
for the whole army. 'Au combat' said Napoleon,
'l'artillerie de la Garde fournit partout.' (In battle,
the artillery of the Guard supplies everywhere.)
Unlike the Royal Artillery, Napoleon's Artillery
carried colours and were awarded battle honours
for their contribution to the Imperial victories.
The Horse Artillery of the Guard and Line had
guidons whereas the regiments of Foot Artillery
ofthe Guard and the Line had colours orstandards.
However, this distinguishing difference was
abolished in 1813, and all carried a colour based
on the national tricolour flag.
The horse artillery guidons prior to 1812 had a
central design of a white lozenge with leaf motif
edging, with a blue corner next to the staff at
the top and a red outer top corner; blue outer
bottom corner and red corner nearest the staff.
Each of these corners carried the regimental
number in a circle of laurels for the line regiments
and a hunting horn in the laurels for the Guard.
In the lozenge in gold was the usual inscription
The reverse bore the normal 'VALEUR ET
DISCIPLINE' and the squadron number. The
staff was surmounted by an Imperial eagle on a
tablet with the squadron or regimental number.
Guard regiments were distinguished by having an
eagle above 'VALEUR ET DISCIPLINE' on
the reverse. The foot regiments followed the
same design but on a colour.
In 18 I 3, the tricolour was universally adopted
and bore on the front the same inscription as
above, and battle honours on the reverse. Honours
found on artillery colours include the following
for the Napoleonic and Revolutionary Wars:
Austerlitz (1805), Danzig (1807), Friedland
(1807), Genes (1800), Heliopolis (1800), Hohen-
linden (1800), Jemmapes (1792), Jena (1806),
Lutzen (1813), Marengo (1800), La Moskowa
(1812), Saragosse (1809), Wagram (1809), Wis-
sembourg (1793) and Zurich (1700). There were
also other honours including Vienne, Essling and
Madrid which were later dispensed with. The
artillery standard of Napoleon's Corps des Guides
(his personal bodyguard before the creation of
the Imperial Guard) carried the following,
roughl y equivalent to the Bri tish mottos 'Ubique.
Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt': 'REPQUE FRANr;SE.
DE GLOIRE.' (French Republic. Everywhere
the Artillery covers itself with glory.)
Soldier of the train of the Guard. From a drawing by Charlet.
Note the harness and the large wood horse collar.
The uniforms of the artillery were always blue
with distinctive scarlet cuffs, a combination that
was also utilised by other countries such as
Bri tain and Prussia. More often than not,
especially during the Peninsular War and the
disastrous Russian campaign of 1812, soldiers,
and officers, were forced to wear what they could
get. Because of the French system of living off
the land, in Spain especially, where enormous
numbers of men were constantly required to
guard the lines of communication with France,
supplies of new uniforms took months to arrive
and the soldiers wore whatever they could pick
up, whether civilian or military. The French
were not alone in this. The British Army was also
a motley sight, many men wearing pieces of
French uniform, and undoubtedly there were
numbers of French soldiers sporting items of
British uniforms and equipment.
While French gunners wore blue uniforms, their
Allies, as will be seen, retained their national
colours. Blue was not only the colour for Napoleon's
gunners, but most of his army wore it. 'La couleur
bleue est la meilleure' Napoleon stated, ' ... C'est
d' ailleurs celle sous lequelle nous sommes connus en
Europe.' (The colour blue is the best. ... I tis,
after all, the colour by which we are known in
Europe.) All the Artillery, except the Garde Cotes
Gunner of the IDlperial Guard talking to a SalJeur de Genie or
engineer of the IDlperial Guard
used scarlet facings; this latter ancient branch of
the French artillery had their uniforms faced with
sea green, apparently a temperamental colour
which appears as differing shades in a number of
contemporary prints. Their distinctions included
cro sed cannon and an anchor on their shako
plate, buttons and pouch badge. In 1812 the
Garde Cotes abandoned their sea green facings for
scarlet, similar to the foot artillery.
Well organised artillery was appreciated by
apoleon who realised the great contribution it
made to his victories. Glorious infantry and
cavalry charges might carry the day in the end,
but the solid dependable might of a massed
bombardment was an indispensible factor to any
battle. In exile on St Helena, Napoleon declared
that 'L' Artillerie aujourd' hui fait la veritable destinee
des armees et des peuples'. (Artillery today governs
the true destiny of armies and nations.)

As the French extended their firm hold over
Europe, they acquired by force or otherwise
allies and satellite states who were by agreement
or by conquest obliged to supply men for
apoleon's Grande Armee. Not all were able to
supply artillery units, many smaller states con-
tenting themselves with offering infantry and
perhaps cavalry.
SWITZERLAND Under a treaty of alliance
signed at Fribourg on 27 September 1803, the
Swiss supplied the French army with 16,000 troops
consisting of four regiments, and four companies
of artillery who were dressed in a similar fashion
to the French, blue with red facings and piping.
With Switzerland's contribution, the Neuchatel
battalion of Marshal Berthier and the Valais
battalions must be included. The Valais battalion
need not concern us, as while they agreed to
supply infantry, they possessed no artillery.
euchatel was under the King of Prussia until it
was ceded to France in 1806 and declared a
principality under Marshal Berthier. On I I May
1807 the battalion was formed which included
one company of artillery. While the rest of the
battalion was dressed in yellow faced red (re-
Gunner of the Garde Cotes and a cUStOIDS officer. FroID a
drawing by Martinet. Note the other gunners in the back-
ground and the coastal gun lDounted on the carriage as
shown on page 8.
suiting in the nickname Les canaris (the canaries),
the artillery wore blue with yellow collar and cuffs.
The artillery also had its own complement of
engineers and Artillery Train, the latter dressed
in blue with yellow collar but grey cuffs. The
drivers wore buckskin breeches and the gunners
wore blue breeches with yellow side-stripes and
black gaiters. The shako followed the French
Artillery style. The battalion fought against the
Austrians in 180g, and served in Spain until with-
drawn for the 1812 Russian campaign. They
fought for Napoleon until the end, the remnants
being disbanded on I June 1814. The equipment
was of the French Gribeauval pattern.
Treaty of Tilsit the Grand Duchy was created
and the artillery brought up to three battalions
consisting of three foot artillery companies with
six guns each, a transport company and a com-
pany of sappers. In 180g the foot artillery was
organised into a single regiment. The gunners
wore the typical French shako and had dark green
coats and trousers with red epaulettes and piping.
The horse artillery was not formed until 1808 and
then at the personal expense of Count Potocki.
At first it was only company strength but by 18IO
it had grown to a regiment. Up to thi date, dark
green coat and overalls were worn with the Polish
lancer's czapka which sported a red plume. In
1810 the uniform was altered to that worn by
the French Chasseurs acheval with fur busby with
red cords and bag.
BADEN In July 1808, Baden, as part of their
agreement as a member of the Confederation of
the Rhine, supplied a regiment of infantry and a
battery of artillery for Spain. They also took part
in the Russian campaign of 1812. The Baden
contingent was disbanded in 1814 and returned
home. The gunners wore a black crested leather
helmet with brass fittings (raupenhelm) , a blue coat
faced black with red turnbacks, brass buttons and
brass metal epaulettes, grey waistcoat and breeches
with black gaiters.
WESTPHALIA The Kingdom of Westphalia,
created by Napoleon for his brother Jerome in
August 1807, entered the Confederation of the
Rhine the following year and supplied a large
number of troops of all arms to the Emperor.
The artillery were clothed and equipped as the
French artillery but incorporated the cypher JN
rather than the Imperial N of the Emperor.
BAVARIA The Bavarians provided a large
number of men of all arms who fought for the
French in Europe and in Russia in 1812, where
they were almost annihilated. The Bavarian
artillery was dressed as their French counterpart
except that they retained the crested leather
raupenhelm with brass fittings, a national cockade
of white and light blue and a red plume. The dark
blue coats had red collars and cuffs and black
lapels. In bad weather a light grey greatcoat was
worn. The Train wore light grey with sky blue
facings, light grey overalls with sky blue stripe
on the outer seam. The horse artillery branch
were dressed like light cavalry and also retained
the crested helmet.
HOLLAND The Emperor created Louis Bona-
parte King of Holland in 1806 and the Dutch
uniforms were modelled on those of the French.
In 1810, however, the various uni ts of the Dutch
army including the horse and foot artillery were
incorporated into the French army and lost all
traces of individuality.
WURTTEMBERG In 1806, when Wiirttem-
berg joined the Confederation of the Rhine, her
artillery had only 466 officers and men. By 1809,
however, it could boast of three batteries with
twenty-two guns. When the Wiirttembergartillery
marched to invade Russia there were two horse
artillery and two foot artillery batteries, all of
which were lost during the disastrous retreat.
In 1813 a battery of horse and foot artillery were
re-raised, but after the battle of Leipzig Wiirttem-
berg changed sides and joined the Allies against
France. The gunners wore the distinctive raupen-
helm, and although dressed in the French style
had thejacket in a distinctive light blue with black
collar and cuffs and black lapels; these were
abandoned in 1810, and replaced with light blue
half-lapels piped in yellow. Light blue breeches
were worn with black gaiters. The Horse Artillery
were similarly dressed but had brass shoulder
scales in place of epaulettes or shoulder straps.
In 1813, when re-raised, the raupenhelm was
abandoned in favour of the French pattern shako
with yellow cords. The Wiirttemberg Guard
Artillery wore light blue uniforms with black
facings and the front edged in white and adorned
with six bars of white tape.
KLEVE-BERG Marshal Murat, who had the
Grand Duchy of Kleve-Berg bestowed on him in
1806, entered the Confederation of the Rhine
the following year. Amongst the 5,000 troops
aiding the Imperial cause were five companies
of artillery which marched with the Grande Armee
into Russia in 1812. The gunners wore the French
style shako with red ball tuft and white cords.
The habit veste in blue, closed to the waist, had
red collar and cuffs and the front piped red in a
plastron shape with brass buttons.
SAXONY Over 20,000 Saxons were with the
Grande Armee that invaded Russia in 1812,
amongst them units of infantry, cavalry and artil-
lery. The Saxon artillery were dressed in green
with red facings and piping, a traditional colour
that had been introduced at the beginning of the
eighteenth century and which remained in use
until 1914.
Facing: French army preparing to cross the St Bernard Pass.
Note the gunners in the foreground dismounting their
equipment and artificers fitting barrels into hewn out tree
trunks. A field forge can be seen at the end of the convoy of
mules laden with wheels and ammunition chests. (Musee
de Versailles)
Bavarian artillery at the siege of Breslau, 1806. Detail from
the painting by W. von Kobel. Various details of dress are
shown as weD as the equipment. Note the gunners carrying
a pistol in a holster on the right side, also the two officers
mounted who are not wearing cloaks
The Kingdom of Naples also supplied large
contingents of troops when Napoleon's brother-
in-law Joachim Murat succeeded Joseph Bona-
parte as King in 1806, the latter taking over the
Spanish throne. Many of the smaller members of
the Confederation of the Rhine such as Saxe-
Coburg-Saalfeld, Oldenberg, Frankfurt, Waldeck,
Nassau and Liepe-Detmold to name a few, were
only obliged to supply foot soldiers.
The main problem facing the French was the
supply of suitable shot and shell for the pieces as
not all the Emperor's Allies utilised the Gribeauval
system. Some adopted the Prussian artillery while
others preferred the Austrian pieces, both systems
coinciding with that used by Britain. A serious
effort was made to use only the French system in
order to avoid the obvious headache of numerous
calibres in one army for the Quarter Masters.
The contribution made by the allied states and
satellites was considerable, especially in Spain
but above all during the Russian campaign in
1812. Unfortunately for Napoleon the disastrous
results of that campaign in terms of prestige, man-
power and equipment caused a general cooling
of relationships within the Empire, and a number
of states began to think twice about their alliance
with the French. The Bavarians changed sides
in 1812, and infantry of other German states
such as Frankfurt-am-Main and Nassau deserted
to the British in 1813.
The Revolutionary Wars cover the period from
the outbreak of hostilities between the French
and the Prussians and Austrians to the time
Napoleon, who had distinguished himself first at
the capture of Toulon, was created Emperor.
Already the entire nation had been 'mobilized'
for war by a law of 23 August 1793. 'The young
men shall fight; the married men shall forge
weapons and transport supplies; the women will
make tents and clothes and will serve in hospitals;
the children will make up old linen into lint; the
old men will have themselves carried into the
public squares and rouse the courage of the
fighting men, to preach the unity of the Republic
and hatred against kings.... ' While the French
dedication to total war gave them a marked
advantage over the conscripted armies of Prussia
and Austria, it was the use ofnew fighting methods
which yielded the victories which firmly estab-
lished the Revolution.
apoleon with his army of Italy, to which
were attached only 30 pieces of artillery and about
1,500 effective horses, showed how the combined
use of artillery and infantry could gain the day.
Speed was the essence of any of apoleon's
victories, together with a thorough knowledge of
his enemies, the terrain and the order of battle.
Little was left to chance. He used the artillery in
the field as he would have done at a siege, by
concentrating his firepower at the beginning of a
battle on one given point. 'Once the breach is
made' Napoleon said, 'the balance is upset,
everything else becomes useless and the place can
be taken.... One must not dissipate one's
A large calibre Dlortar DlOunted on a cast iron bed dated
11109. Note the cut out at the front of the bed on which a bar
could be placed to raise the barrel.
Napoleon clung to this theory, and during the
years 1807-15, when the quality of his infantry
began to decline, he put more emphasis on the
massed use of artillery. However, during this
period his enemies, who had at first been slow
to grasp the new methods of warfare utilised by
the French and to realise the advantages gained
by the useofmassed batteries, replied to Napoleon's
use of artillery with a devastating fire of their own.
While massed artillery as a prelude to a spirited
infantry attack with cavalry support admirably
suited the Emperor, this accumulation and con-
centration of guns which the French found in-
dispensible was considered unsuitable by the
Duke of Wellington. A defensive action, which
was nearly always Wellington's strategy, called
for artillery support on a wide front rather than
a concentration which offered a single massed
target for the enemy gunners.
By 1800, most countries had accepted the use
of mobile or horse artillery, but their main
artillery effective lay with the marching battalions
and the batteries, whose slow and lumbering
movements were an accepted part of war.
Napoleon, however, was not content to be slowed
down by any incumbrance, and his planning and
decisive action in his early battles was due to his
superior speed and positioning. Every arm had
to be self-sufficient and to be able to move at a
faster pace than the enemy. Manreuvrability was
the essential ingredient on which Napoleon based
his calculation, his planning and his success.
While the French artillery was not superior to
any other, and often inferior in material and
manpower, its application was far and away
superior. French powder might well have been
criticised as not being so pure as that of the
British, and its ran?;' not so great, but the decided
contribution of the artillery to the early victories
of the French is undeniable.
The offensive spirit of the French army and the
artillery was in direct contrast to the slow, ponder-
ous and defensive tactics of the Austrians and
Prussians, who were soundly beaten atJemmapes
on 6 November 1792, at Wattignies the following
year, and at a number of other battles. The
attacking spirit of the French sometimes got a
little out ofhand and at Wattignies a horse battery
which advanced too far was captured after the
gunners had spiked their guns. The first 'artillery
charge' was made at the battle of Arlon, when a
certain Captain Sorbier led his battery in a charge
against a so-far unbreakable Austrian sq uare.
Cavalry often avoided attacking squares as it was
unprofitable, but for horse artillery to charge a
square was unthinkable. The French gunners
broke the square and opened the way for the
cavalry. (Captain Norman Ramsey of the Royal
Horse Artillery had probably heard of Sorbier's
exploit when he modified it slightly and charged
through the French cavalry which surrounded
his troop at Fuentes de Onero in May 181 I, and
so saved his guns.)
The Artillery were actively engaged on the
Rhine during 1796-7, aiding the French in
winning the bridgeheads, while in Italy, Napoleon
with his ragged and badly equipped army was
winning victory after victory, using massed
artillery in preliminary bombardments to batter
the enemy before launching the infantry attack.
If at first, lack of pieces made the bombardment
less effective than Napoleon would have liked,
later campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars were
marked by artillery duels of unprecedented
strength. (At Borodino, according to one Russian
historian, the battle started ' .... with a terrible
cannonade of twelve hundred guns, which was
heard one hundred kilometres around.' At Water-
loo in 1815, Napoleon's preliminary bombard-
ment with 80 guns seems feeble by comparison.)
One of the most spectacular feats accomplished
by Napoleon wi th artillery was his passage over
the St Bernard, which completely surprised the
Austrians who were threatening Genoa. Artillery
was dismounted and every single piece of equip-
ment including barrels, trails, and wheels was
taken over the Alps. Trees were cut down and
hewn out to encase the barrels and pulled as
rudimentary sledges. Thevenin's painting in the
Musee de Versailles shows the gunners, both foot
and horse, fitting the barrels of cannon and
howitzers into the hollowed logs, while the trails
and carriages are manhandled on to horses and
mules in preparation for the historic march.
Fragonard's engraving shows the barrel of a field
piece being hauled up the Alps under the watchful
eye of the First Consul.
The Austrians, surprised by the arrival of
Passage over the St Bernard Pass showing the gunners
using handspikes to assist in getting a barrel on a tree trunk
Napoleon's army and finding themselves sur-
rounded, attacked the French on 14 June at
Marengo. Unfortunately for the French not all
their artillery had arrived, and at the end of the
day the Austrian superiority in artillery forced
the French to retire, Napoleon having only
fifteen pieces against the Austrians' hundred or so.
The Austrians were so confident of victory that
their General Melas had already despatched a
courier to Vienna (and, mysteriously, the news
was also already en route for Paris), but for Napoleon
the day was not yet over. He hastily summoned
General Desaix, whose corps he had detached
from the army the previous day, and in due course
the fresh troops and artillery arrived to give the
French a resounding victory. The fire of a massed
battery of eighteen guns smashed into the
Austrian columns and the infantry and cavalry
pursued and harassed the dispirited Austrians,
clinching the victory.
France had virtually ground Europe to its knees,
and by the Treaty of Amiens in 1802 all hostilities
ceased and a new phase in the history of Europe
dawned. An insignificant junior artillery officer,
by sheer brains, willpower and know-how had
risen to become First Consul and, in effect,
dictator of France.
The uneasy peace, which endured but ten
months, ended in Britain's blockade of the
Continent and Napoleon's retaliatory moves and
preparations for invasion. Establishing a camp at
Boulogne, he ammassed troops and equipment
ready for his cross-Channel assault. A large battery
of imposing mortars, with a range of little over
'The battle of Marengo by L. F. Lejeune. The infantry
advance as the gunners on the right of the picture continue
to fire into the enemy. The team, gunners and officers are
ofthe Consular Guard Artillery and wear, except for drivers,
a light cavalry style of uniform. (Musee de Versailles)
1,500 yards, was assembled and poin ted threaten-
ingly towards England. The Emperor's dream -
for it could not be considered a serious reality in
view of Britain's naval superiority - was aban-
doned when in August 1805 he took the initiative
and marched eastward against the newly recruited
members of the Third Coalition.
As the Emperor and his army, with 350 pieces
of artillery, marched from Boulogne into Ger-
many, the Austrian army under General Mack
advanced into Bavaria. Napoleon's army com-
prised 186,000 men divided into seven army corps,
each with their own infantry, cavalry and artillery.
This gave Bonaparte the flexibility he needed to
defeat the Austrians. While Mack was waiting
for the French to appear through the Black
Forest, Napoleon passed to the north with part of
his army and cut the Austrians from Vienna,
while the other army corps completed the en-
circling of the enemy. The French inflicted several
defeats on the Austrians who clashed with them
in an attempt to break out. Eventually, on 17
October, Mack capitulated; the campaign had
lasted for fourteen days and had cost the Austrians
62,000 men, 80 stands of colours and 200 pieces
of artillery.
The news of the defeat of the combined French
and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar confronted
Napoleon with the need for rapid military
decisions. He had beaten the Austrians, but the
Austrian armies were re-grouping and forming
with those of Russia. Prussia, until now a neutral,
was swaying uneasily on the brink about to join
the Coalition. Napoleon hastily set his army in
motion and entered Vienna without opposition
on 13 November. Resting for two days, he pushed
on to find the concentrated armies of Russia and
Austria who were now near Olmutz, ninety miles
Gunner, Foot Artillery, 1804
2 Gunner, Foot Artillery of the Line, 1807
3 Officer, Horse Artillery, 1804
Officer, Horse Artillery
of the Guard, 1807
2 Sergeant-Major,
Horse Artillery of the
Pioneer, Foot Artillery of the Guard, lBog
2 Driver, Artillery Train of the Guard, lBog
3 Gunner, Foot Artillery of the Guard, 1808
Gunner, drivers and four-horse team with" 12 pdr gun and
limber, Foot Artillery of the Line, 1810
Musician, 9th Regiment, Foot Artillery of the Line, 1811
2 Drummer, Foot Artillery of the Line, 1812
3 Gunner, Horse Artillery of the Guard, 1811
Driver, Artillery Train of the Guard, 1812
2 Gunner, Horse Artillery of the Line, 1812
3 Driver, Artillery Train of the Line, 1813
Officer, Horse Artillery of the Line, 1813
Gunner, Foot Artillery of the Line, 1815
Gunner, Foot Artillery of the Guard, 1814
French artillery in harsh
conditions crossing the
Sierra Guadarranta. Front
the painting by Taunay.
(Musee de Versailles)
from Vienna. The combined enemy armies
totalled some 95,000 men while that of the
French - weakened by battle and also by having
to leave troops behind to garrison and guard the
lines of communication - had fallen to 80,000.
The scene was set for Napoleon's finest victory,
that of Austerlitz. What Marengo had done for
him as First Consul, Austerlitz would do for him
as Emperor.
Although the artillery played its usual important
role in Napoleon's tactics at Austerlitz, it was his
skilful strategy which half-won the battle before
it had started. In his usual fashion, Napoleon
chose the field of battle and 'positioned his troops
in such a way that the enemy thought him
prepared only for a defensive action. He purposely
offered a weak right flank for the Coalition forces
to attempt to turn, with a view to their cutting
the French retreat from Vienna. As soon as the
enemy drew strength from their centre to attack
this 'decoy', the French would strike at that
newly weakened centre. Immediately he saw the
enemy in motion, the Emperor realised that they
had fallen for his ruse. 'Before tomorrow evening'
he exclaimed, 'that army will be mine!'.
The battle was a long-drawn and bloody con-
flict between three great armies. Nothing the
Russians and Austrians attempted could alter
their initial mistake of falling into the French
trap. Once it was sprung, the battle was lost. In
the centre and on their left the French were
masters of the field, the retreating Austrian and
Russian troops being harassed by the artillery of
the Imperial Guard ' ... whose fire ploughed
through their long columns, carrying with it
death and consternation.' On the right, the only
way of escape lay across the frozen Lake Menitz.
' ... I nan instan t the whi te expanse was blackened
by the flying multitude. The most horrible
disastrous phase of the whole battle was at hand.
The shot of the French artillery which was firing
on the retreat broke the ice at many points, and
its frail support gave way.... Thousands of
Russians, with horses, artillery and train sank
into the lake and were engulfed....'
Recriminations between the allies ensued after
the battle. The Russians accused the Austrians
of incapacity and even treason. In a report to
the Emperor of Russia, one general wrote: 'They
[the Austrian generals] conducted your majesty's
army rather in a way to deliver it to the enemy
than to fight. ... ' Some considered that Napoleon
knew the disposition of the Allied forces, which
he undoubtedly did, but the Russians could not
admit to being duped. 'The plan had been
treacherously communicated to Bonaparte; forty-
'The attack and capture of Ratisbone' 180g. While the troops
are moving forward with scaling ladders, the artillery, in
the middle, still continue to pound the walls. The officer
watching the gunners is wearing the pelisse. From the
painting by Thevenin (Musee de Versailles)
eight hours before we were ready, the latter began
the attack at break of day....'
On 4 December an armistice was agreed and
on Christmas Eve 1805 the Peace of Presburg
was signed. By his brilliant strategy at Austerlitz,
Napoleon seemed to have made himself master of
Central Europe. The following year, in attempting
to make peace with Russia, the French were at
war with Prussia. The Prussians, like the Austrians
the year before, did not allow time for the Russians
tojoin them, resulting in the twin defeats atJena
and Auerstadt. Once again the French victory
was due to the superior tactics of the Emperor
and his skilled balancing of the three combat
While Napoleon realised the value of artillery,
he also appreciated its value to his enemies, even
though they used it with less skill than he. At
Landsberg in October 1805 the 26th Cuirassiers
charged and surprised Prince Ferdinand's Austrian
artillery, so crippling it as to prevent its taking any
major part in the battle. Napoleon's careful
application of his artillery was not confined to
the attack. The night before the battle ofJ ena in
1806 Napoleon had his pioneers enlarge a small
pathway to the Landgrafenberg plateau to enable
his artillery to attain thei r posi tions and su rprise
the enemy. He personally stood holding a lantern
throughout the night, as the gunners struggled
and toiled, cursed and heaved their pieces into
place. With the aid of twelve horse teams, the
artillerymen attained their objective and were
ready at daybreak to open a heavy bombardment.
At Eylau in February 1807, where Napoleon
was at a disadvantage with artillery - he had
barely 200 pieces against the Russian 400 - he
successfully used it in a defensive role and won a
close victory. Alfred Rambaud in his History of
Russia (1882) described the morning of the battle
and the setback experienced by Augereau's
divisions. 'A thick snow was falling, which ever
and anon hid the battle-field from sight; the sky
was of a livid gray; the landscape was as gloomy
as the result of the action. The battle began by a
formidable cannonade, which lasted all day. The
French, sheltered by the buildings of the town of
Eylau, and disposed in thin lines, suffered from it
less than the Russians, who had little cover, and
were ranged in compact masses. The corps of
Augereau and the division of Saint Hilaire,
entrusted with the attack on the Russian left
wing, went astray, blinded by a squall of snow;
when the sky cleared, the twodivisionsofAugereau
found themselves opposite the Russian centre,
French Horse Artillery ntanhandling a gun and lintber over
difficult terrain. The shortage of horses, on occasion made
it necessary to reduce teants front six to four. (Parker
forty paces from a battery of seventy-two guns;
mown down at the cannon's mouth, they lost in
a few minutes five thousand two hundred men.'
Luckily the twenty-four pieces of the Horse
Artillery of the Guard, with those of the cavalry
and 7th Corps reserve, were able to stop the
counterattack of the Russians. The Emperor
himself urged on the gunners, and as at Toulon
fourteen years before, took the rammer, loaded
and trained the field pieces. 'The French' wrote
Rambaud, 'had more right to call themselves
victorious, as they remained masters of the field
of battle. Unlike the Russians, some of their
troops were still intact ... and a gloomy sadness
hung over the survivors.' Napoleon in his despatch
mentioned the thousands of heaped-up corpses
and the gunners killed beside the pieces, ' ... all
thrown into relief by a background of snow.'
The Russians fell back towards their own fron-
tiers pursued by the French, and although the
Emperor's troops were checked at the beginning
of June at Heilsberg, they were victorious at
Friedland four days later.
To offset the poor manocuvring powers of their
infantry the Russians utilised great numbers of
cannon, but they never attained anything like
the advantage Napoleon obtained from his
artillery. At Eylau, as we have seen, he was
completely outnumbered in cannon, but by a
superior application managed to carry the day.
At Friedland, Senarmont's remarkable use of
artillery finally opened the way for the infantry
assault. Napoleon himself, seeing Senarmont's
accomplishment, remarked to an ADC 'These
artillerymen are an unruly lot who see things at
times better than we; let them carryon.' The
Russian army was forced back across the river,
battered by grape shot and harassed by cavalry.
'Ney led this charge with irresistible fury', wrote
Rambaud, 'the Russians were riddled by his
artillery at one hundred and fifty paces ... he
burnt Friedland with his shells, and carronaded
the bridges, which was their [the Russians] only
way of retreat.' The Russians lost about 25,000
men and all their artillery and, unable to resist
apoleon, proposed an armistice which was
signed at Tilsit on 22 June.
If the use of artillery at Friedland in 1807 had
been spectacular, its employment at Wagram in
July 1809 was superb. After the defeat at Essling
on 21 and 22 June, the French were forced to
retire across the Danube and, luckily for apoleon,
Archduke Charles made no move to take ad-
vantage of the situation. At Wagram, on 6 July,
the battle opened at four o'clock in the morning
and again the Austrians at first appeared to have
the upper hand. Everywhere the French were
forced to give ground. apoleon reinforced
Massena and Bernadotte and sent forward the
entire Artillery of the Guard. Six foot-batteries
and six horse-batteries of the Guard and five
horse-batteries of the Line formed in column,
received the order 'En avant, en batteries." (Forward
by battery!) and on a front of about 2,000 yards
a hundred cannon cut down the Austrians with
deadly accuracy, opening the way for the infantry.
By three o'clock the Austrians had lost the
initiative. The decisive charge of the artillery had
won the day. During forty hours nearly 1,100
pieces of artillery of both sides battered one
another, the French alone firing 100,000 rounds
ofvarious types ofammunition. However, Wagram
could never be considered a second Austerlitz.
With trouble in Spain still continuing, the
Emperor decided that Wagram had ended the
campaign and a peace was signed on II July 1809.
Spain continued to be a problem for the French
and demanded the attention of large numbers of
troops and much-needed artillery, but apoleon
was content to consider it a side show and only
once visited the country. He' preferred to con-
centrate on Central Europe and Russia. British
sea domination had forced Napoleon to look east
for territorial gain and there he saw the vast
expanse of Russia stretched before him. The
Tsar's refusal to be subservient to Napoleon's
wishes and demands was eventually voiced in
the words 'lor Napoleon, we cannot both rule
at the same time....' In March 1812 Napoleon
joined his Grande Armee at Dresden, and the Tsar
joined his at Vilna; 'This was the first move in
the great game of chess in which the interests of
all Europe were involved', wrote Sonia Howe in
A Thousand Years oj Russian History (19 I 7).
apoleon crossed the iemen river on 24June;
half a million infantry, 80,000 cavalry and nearly
600 guns drawn from France, his Italian king-
doms, the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, the Con-
Above: French artillery in
action at the siege and
capture of Tarragona 29
May 1811. Note that in this
artist's impression, the
artillery are placed much
too close to the walls.
(National Army Museum)
Right: Bavarian troops
including artillery at the
battle of Polotsk, August
1812. Note the two gun and
one howitzer battery in the
foreground complete with
its complement of teams
and ammunition wagons
A gunner of the French Horse Artillery. This engraving
shows the various parts of the uniforDl, as weD as the sword
and pistol with which the gunners were arDled. (National
ArDlY MuseuDl)
federation of the Rhine and other allies accom-
panied the Emperor. The Russian generals,
against their will, wisely retreated and drew
Napoleon's troops into the interior of Russia.
Movements were slow as the roads were bad and
the artillery suffered as a conseq uencc. Horses
were dying, but the French hoped to replace
them as was their usual practice by requisition in
an enemy country. The French and Russians
clashed at Krasnoe on 14 August, the day
following Napoleon's forty-third birthday, and
at Smolensk on 16, 17 and 18 August in a stale-
mate battle similar to Eylau.
At Borodino on 6 September Napoleon caught
up with the Russian forces. That night, for the
first time French troops dined off dead artillery
horses; it was an ominous sign of what was to
come. On the following morning at 5.30 an
artillery battery of the Guard opened the
bombardment, followed by the deafening roar
ofthe three massed batteries ofthe French artillery,
directed at the great redoubt the Russians had
thrown up at Borodino: a total of 587 heavy field
pieces. The infantry assaulted and captured the
redoubt but a violent Russian counter-attack was
only halted by disciplined use of the French
batteries. When Murat led his Cuirassier charge,
a hundred horse-artillery pieces galloped to his
aid. At the end of a day of heavy and continuous
bombardment, Napoleon united his entire artil-
lery effort and blasted the Russians from the
field. 'Puisqu'ils en veulent encore' said the Emperor,
'donnez-leur en.' (As they seem to want more, give
it to them.) For the French it was a resounding
victory which opened the road to Moscow, but
to some it was a disquieting victory, even though
587 French guns manned by 16,000 artillerymen
had outgunned 640 guns manned by 14,000
artillerymen. The Russians now fell back to
defend Moscow, but the question was asked, was
it necessary to sacrifice the last remaining army
in Russia to protect the city? 'It would be
glorious to die under Moscow' wrote a Russian
artillery officer, 'but it is not a question of glory.'
Although the French occupied Moscow the
inhabitants set the city on fire. Unable - because
of the cold and lack of supplies and horses - to
maintain such an advanced position, Napoleon
retreated. It was the beginning of the end. In the
disastrous retreat thousands died of frostbite and
cold, artillery was abandoned because there were
no horses left to pull it (the Polish artillery, how-
ever, managed to save a large part of their equip-
ment) and there was nothing to eat, the Russians
having forced the French to revert to the areas of
countryside already laid waste. It was a general
signal for Europe to rise against the Emperor,
and slowly the Allies closed in. At Leipzig, on 18
October 18 I 3, despite massed batteries and a
tremendous bombardment, the French were
beaten. France, for the first time in many years,
was threatened and had to be defended. Artillery
was massed on the frontiers to repel the invaders,
but in vain. Despite the campaigns of 1813, and
that of the early months of 1814, French troops
were forced back from the east by the Russians,
Prussians and Austrians and from the south by
Wellington and his Peninsular army. On 30 May
1814 Napoleon abdicated, and was sent to the
small island of Elba.
Uniform of the Ecole Pol)'tec1Illique, the leading French artillery
school. The figure shown is in tell/It de villr or walking out
12 pdr gun, limber and team, complete with harness and
equipment. This model was presented by Czar Nicholas
to the King of Sweden. It is typical of the artillery in use
during the Napoleonic wars and shows the method of
limbering and harnessing. (Kungl. Armemuseum)
mterloo G'ampaign
On 20 March 1815 apoleon, who had landed at
Antibes from his exile on Elba, entered Paris.
This tim he wanted peace, but the Allies, wary
of apoleon's power and ambitions, decided on
war. Amassing men and equipment, recalling
the National Guard, the veterans and garrison
gunners, he re-formed his artillery, his most
important tool. 'Jl faut du canon partout', he wrote,
'on se bat a coups de canon comme on se bat a coups de
poings.' (We must have ordnance everywhere, one
fights with artillery as one would with one's fists.)
The Imperial Guard Artillery was reconstituted,
consisting of nine foot-batteries, four horse-
batteries and four batteries of the Young Guard
wi th 126 pieces.
In the north, Napoleon was opposed by the
Anglo-Dutch army under the Duke of Wellington
and the Army of the Rhine under Marshal
BlUcher. Napoleon planned to destroy each
separately before they could unite and before
other allies came to their aid. On 15 June the
French cros ed the Sambre at Charleroi on a
five-mile front and on the following day attacked
the British at Quatre Bras and the Prussians at
Ligny. The Prussians were beaten and withdrew;
the British held their ground but retired the
following day and formed up on the ridge of
Mont St Jean near the insignificant village of
Waterloo. Napoleon had detached 32,000 men
and 96 pieces of ordnance to pursue the Prussians
to prevent them from re-joining their allies.
On the morning of 18 June 1815 the British
artillery was drawn up on the forward slope of
the ridge while the infantry, in typical Wellington
fashion, were ordered to position themselves on
the reverse slope to lessen the effects of the
inevitable French artillery bombardment. 'The
coming battle' said Napoleon, 'will save France
and be renowned in history. I shall bombard
them with my great weight of artillery, I shall
charge them with my cavalry, so that they will
show themselves... .' apoleon was superior in
artillery, 266 pieces against 96 manned by the
French foot artillery gunner of J8Jz. Note the shako and
plate and the short brass hilted sword or briqlltl. The plate
gives some idea of the size of a gun wheel compared with
the height of a man. (National Army Museum)
Royal Artillery and 156 manned by their allies,
but he was in no hurry to open the battle, the
wet state of the ground after the night's torrential
rain making it difficult to posi tion his batteries
At 12.20, 80 French guns opened fire, having
been positioned on the forward slopes with some
difficulty. The shots were not as effective as was
hoped, the round shot falling in the mud and
not rebounding and the shells burying themselves
before exploding. Even so many were finding
their mark. Twenty-four of the French pieces
were the dreaded 12 pdrs with an accurate range
of 2,000 yards. The bombardment took away the
breath of the young soldiers and even startled the
Peninslliar veterans by its intensity, but little
French officer of Foot Artillery 1812. Plate front The Military
Costume of Europe published by T. Goddard. Cocked hats were
not always worn and shakos were contnton head dress.
(National Arnty MuseUDl)
harm was done except to a brigade of Belgians
who had been drawn up in the Continental
fashion on the forward slope.
At 1.30, as a prelude to D'Erlon's attack on
Wellington's left centre, the bombardment re-
commenced. 'The gunners were standing in line'
wrote a French officer, 'inserting the charges,
ramming them home, swinging the slow matches
to make them burn more brightly. They seemed
to move as one man. Behind them stood the
captains of the guns; nearly all of them were
elderly and they gave their orders as if on parade.
Eighty guns fired together, blotting out every
other sound. The whole valley was filled with
smoke. A second or two later, the calm clear voices
of the captain could be heard once more, "Load!-
Ram! - Arm! - Fire!". This continued without
break for half an hour. We could scarcely see
our comrades but across the valley, the English
had also opened fire. We could hear the whistle
of their cannon balls in the air, the dull thud as
they struck the ground and that other sound when
muskets were smashed to matchwood and men
hurled twenty paces to the rear, every bone
crushed, or when they fell with a limb gone.'
Hougoumont was soon under severe pressure
from infantry and horse artillery. The French
rode up to within 300 yards and unlimbered, but
they did not reckon on the accuracy of the
defenders' Baker rifles. 'We destroyed all their
French artillery in action at
the battle of Montereau,
28 February 1814. Hoping to
beat his enenty between his
position and the river Seine,
Napoleon had ordered
Marshal Victor to destroy
all the bridges, which
unfortunately was not
carried out. The Entperor
arrived as the Austrians
were crossing the bridge
and front the vantage point
overlooking the town where
the artillery were positioned,
aided the gunners in serving
their equipntent. It was on
this occasion that Napoleon
ntade his fantous rentark,
'. . . Ie boulet qui doit me tuer
II' est pas encore fOlldu.' (The
bullet that can kill nte has
not yet been cast)
artillerymen before they could give us a second
round', remembered a rifleman. D'Erlon's attack
on the left-centre was repulsed wi th heavy fighting,
Lord Uxbridge leading the Household and
Union cavalry brigades in pursuit. The Union
Brigade over-reached itself and charged almost
up to Napoleon's position. Colonel Hamilton
cried to the Scots Greys, '''Charge! Charge the
guns," and went off like the wind up the hill,'
wrote a survivor of the charge, 'towards the
terrible battery that had made such deadly work
amongst the infantry. It was the last we saw of
him, the poor fellow.... Then we got amongst
the gunners and had our revenge ! We sabred the
gunners, lamed their horses and cut the traces
and harness. I can hear the Frenchmen crying
"Diable!" when I struck at them, and the long
drawn out hiss through their teeth as my sword
went home.' The French cavalry counterattacked
and the Union Brigade suffered such severe
casualties in the retirement that they were of no
further use to Wellington.
After a slight pause in the action, the French
gunners opened another barrage before a further
attempt at breaking the Allied centre. The
accuracy ofthe fire was impressive and Wellington
Driver of the Train of Artillery 1815. Note the horse equip-
ment and the gun limbered to the single axle by its trail.
After V. Adam (National Army Museum)
withdrew his infantry a further hundred yards
behind the crest, while the French once more
surrounded La Haye Sainte, held by riflemen of
the King's German Legion. This withdrawal was
taken by Ney to be a retreat and as the French
artillery fell silent, to the relief of the British
infantry, Ney ordered forward 5,000 of the finest
cavalry in Europe. As they charged up the slopes
the British artillery loaded case and round shot,
one in front of the other, and as Mercer wrote,
'Every man stood steadily at his post, the guns
ready ... the tubes were in the vent; the port-
fires glowed and spluttered behind the wheels.'
Five times the French charged and five times they
were driven back. As they retired the British
gunners emerged from the safety of the squares
and the French artillery recommenced their
pounding of the Allied positions.
The battle continued unabated for the rest of
the afternoon, Napoleon attempting to break
the Allied line and Wellington holding on,
awaiting the promised arrival of Blucher. The
French artillery fire took on a new intensity as
Napoleon reinforced his mass batteries directed
at the centre, trying to blast a hole for the in-
fantry and cavalry. The fire was crippling. By
The charge of the Union Brigade, a print after the painting
by Dupre. ' ' ' C h a r ~ e l Charge the guns," and went off like
the wind up the hill towards the terrible battery that had
made such deadly work amongst the infantry ... We got
amongst the gunners and had our revenge.'
the crossroads 450 of the 700 men of the 27th
Foot eventually lay in their square where they
had fallen, while other regiments fared little
better. 'Hard pounding this, gentlemen' remarked
the Duke, 'but we will see who can pound the
longest. '
Eventually apolcon launched his Guard,
who had been inactive all day despite ey's
plea for more troops. The Imperial Guard failed
in their last desperate bid to break the line;
sent reeling back by the I st Foot Guards, they
were eventually broken by the 52nd Regiment.
The general cry of 'La Garde recule' (The Guard
retires) was taken up in the French army and
except for a spirited stand by some elements
which covered Napoleon's escape, the battle was
virtually over.
After the battle Wellington wrote to Lord
Beresford, who had won the narrow victory of
Albuera in the Peninsular War in 181 I, 'Never
did I see such a pounding match. Both were what
boxers call gluttons. Napoleon did not mana;uvre
at all. He just moved forward in the same old
style and was driven off in the same old style.
The only difference was that he mixed cavalry
with his infantry and support d both with an
enormous amount of artillery!' The French lost
or abandoned 250 pieces of artillery in the
campaign, although Grouchy - who had pursued
Blucher - managed to save some of his.
The French artillery and apoleon's skilled
use of it had been one of the greatest factors in
France's twenty-year series of victories. The key
to the advantages he obtained from it, even
though often outnumbered, was the positioning
of his massed batteries at exactly the right place
in his overall battle plan.
'The batde of Waterloo' by Sir William Allan R.A. Napoleon
on the right surveys the batdefield while the artillery in
front of him continues to load and fire. Note the gunners
ramming home the charge and projectile and the non-
commissioned officer 'serving the vent' with his thumb.
To the right, a gunner places the portfire into the vent field
to fire the piece. (Wellington Museum, London)
One of the French cannon captured at Waterloo. Note the
weight and size of the trail and the rings at the rear for the
handspike and the hole in the trail for limbering up. This
piece now stands before the Royal Military Academy at
Sandhurst. Note that the wheels are of a later and British
pattern. (National Army Museum)
Al Gunner, Foot ArtiLLery, 1804
The French, like most artillery in Europe, were
dressed in a blue uniform, which had changed
little since the French Revolution and the period
of the Consulate. The bicorn hat was worn across
the head and adorned with a scarlet plume and
cockade in national colours. The coat was blue
with red piping and round cuffs with blue flaps
and brass buttons. The front, as in the coat worn
by other arms, was cut away to show the waist-
coat. The turnbacks were red, decorated with
blue cloth grenades, and as nether wear blue
breeches with whi te gai ters or 'spatterdashes'
and black boots were worn. White infantry-style
crossbelts holding ammunition pouch and bayonet
as well as a short sword or briquet were issued,
together with a musket.
A2 Gunner, Foot ArtiLLery of the Line, 1807
The uniform differed little from that worn In
r804, except that the collar was now closed at
the front and high white or black gaiters were
worn, the former for parade and the latter for
service. The cocked hat was replaced by a black
shako with scarlet trim and plume, a cockade,
and chinscales in brass. The brass plate was
diamond-shaped and displayed a crowned eagle
over crossed cannon and the number of the
regiment. The pack was in natural cowhide and
a rolled coat was strapped to the top.
A3 Officer, Horse ArtiLLery, 1804
The French horse artillery was formed in the
early years ot the Revolution, and followed the
unwritten law of all horse artillery with regard to
uniform, which decreed that they should adopt
a hussar style to emphasise their dash and alacrity.
The early uniform comprised a black shako
suitably adorned with scarlet trim, cockade and
plume. The heavily laced dolman was blue with
scarlet-piped collar, pointed cuffs and frogged
front, while the pantaloons were blue with a
scarlet stripe down the outer seam of the leg,
passing over the seat at the rear. Chevrons on the
front thigh denoted ranks. Boots were 'Hessian'
or hussar pattern with top edge in scarlet braid
adorned with tassels. A barrel sash in blue and
red encircled the waist and white crossbelt and
sword belt suspended respectively a pouch and
a brass hilted sabre and sabretache on the left
B I Officer, Horse ArtiLLery of the Guard, 1807
This arm of Napoleon's Guard copied their
uniforms from their Line counterparts but with
certain refinements. The busby was in black fur
with scarlet bag, trimmed in gold with a scarlet
plume. The dolman was in blue with a gold-
laced collar, pointed cuffs edged in lace according
to rank and a heavily gold-frogged front. The
pantaloons had chevrons on each thigh denoting
rank and were worn with 'Hessian' boots trimmed
in gold lace. The pelisse, worn in this case over the
left shoulder but equally useful as an 'overcoat',
was decorated in similar fashion to the dolman
but with grey fur down the front, around the
bottom and on collar and cuffs. The crossbelt in
red leather was adorned wi th gil t wire embroidery,
as was the sword bel t.
B2 Sergeant-Major, Horse ArtiLLery of the Guard,
The sergeant-major wears in this instance a
cocked hat and a long blue riding coat over his
uniform. The coat was double breasted with gold
trefoil shoulder straps and an aiguillette on the
left. The badges of rank - laced chevrons - were
worn on the cuff. The white sword belt worn over
the coat suspended a brass-hilted sabre on the
left side.
CI Pioneer, Foot ArtiLLery of the Guard, 1809
The pioneer or sapeur was an essential artificer
in any army on campaign. In the Foot Artillery
of the Guard the uniform comprised a black busby
with scarlet bag, a blue coat piped in scarlet and
scarlet worsted epaulettes with the 'trade' badge
of crossed axes with grenade above on the upper
arm. The usual crossbelt equipment was worn,
the belt over the left shoulder being adorned with
crossed axes in brass. The white waistbelt had a
plate bearing a grenade; in common with pioneers
of other armies, a white apron was worn and a
various tools such as axes, saws and billhooks
were carried.
C2 Driver, Artillery Train oj the Guard, 1809
The drivers wore a steel grey coat, waistcoat,
breeches and black shako with scarlet trim, brass
chinscales and a plate showing a crowned eagle
on crossed cannon over a tablet inscribed 'N'.
The coat was piped in scarlet and cut away at
the front to show the waistcoat frogged in scarlet
cord. The breeches had elaborate 'Austrian'
knots on each thigh and trefoil shoulder knots
were fitted to the coat. A white crossbelt adorned
with a grenade held a black pouch at the back
while a ceinturon baudrier, a waist belt adapted for
shoulder wear was worn over the right shoulder.
C3 Gunner, Foot Artillery oj the Guard, 1808
The gunner is shown in fatigue dress or tenue
d'exercise consisting of a 'bonnet de police' in blue
piped scarlet and a blue sleeved waistcoat and
blue trousers. The usual crossbelt equipment was
worn, and some gunners carried a cowhide haver-
sack in addition, containing tools for the guns.
D and E Gunner, drivers and Jour-horse team with
12 pdr gun and Limber, Foot Artillery oj the Line,
The 12 pdr was the largest calibre field gun in
use in the French artillery, with a range of just
over I, 100 yards. The cast brass barrel was
mounted on an olive drab (dirty green) painted
'double bracket' trail carriage which in turn
hooked to asingleaxlelimberwithout ammunition
boxes. A small ammunition chest for immediate
use was carried between the trail but the main
supply accompanied the piece in other wagons.
The horses were harnessed to a single central
pole by means of straps, chains and wood collars.
The drivers, men from the Train of Artillery,
wore a steel blue coat with dark blue collar,
lapels, cuffs with steel blue flaps, and shoulder
straps. The breeches were buff coloured and worn
with heavy reinforced riding boots. A short
sword carried in a baldric over the right shoulder
and a black pouch was fitted to a white belt worn
over the left. The saddle cloth was a steel blue
rear housing with a white sheepskin front edged
in blue cloth with 'vandyked' edge. A square-
sectioned valise was worn behind the saddle.
The gunner in this case wears the shako with oiled
skin cover, whereas the drivers have theirs
uncovered showing the white cording and silver
fitments. The gunner wears a great coat with cape
in dark blue and overalls in blue with scarlet
stripe, buttons, and brown leather reinforcement.
FI Musician, 9th Regiment, Foot Artillery of the
Line, 181 I
The 9th Regiment was peculiar in that it dressed
its musicians in the unique fashion shown. In
place of other head dress a lancer-style cap was
worn with scarlet squared top edged in gold lace,
and a central band of gold lace at the 'waist'
above the black leather body. The cords were in
gold and the plate, sunray design with silver
centre, bore the initial 'N'. The coat was scarlet
with blue collar, front and round cuffs worn over
blue waistcoat and breeches and cavalry style
boots. The white crossbelt retained by a gold
trefoil shoulder cord suspended a short sword.
F2 Drummer, Foot Artillery oj the Line, 1812
Up to 1812, drummers had been dressed in the
same way as gunners with the addition of various
gold lace distinctions to coat and shako, but in
that year the scarlet coat which had ousted the
blue one in 1807 was in its turn replaced by the
one shown here. This was in the colours of the
Imperial livery decreed by Napoleon. The green
coat was decorated, as was the practice for
drummers in many armies, with chevrons and
bars of lace on the arms and chest. The Imperial
lace used had a yellow background with scarlet
edge top and bottom, and alternate designs of
the Imperial 'N' and eagle. It was so made and
sewn to the coat that the 'N' and eagle were
always upright. A white crossbelt suspended a
brass-hilted short sword, and the brass drum
with blue hoops and white cords was held by a
white belt that passed over the right shoulder
and was ornamented with a brass plate in which
the sticks were carried. A knee apron was also
worn to prevent the drum from causing wear on
the breeches. The drum had two white straps
beneath by which it was carried on the back, like
a knapsack, during the march.
F3 Gunner, Horse ArtiLLelY oj the Guard, 1811
The gunner is shown in full dress wearing the
black busby with scarlet plume, adornments and
bag. The dolman was blue with scarlet-piped
collar and frogged front. A yellow and scarlet
worsted barrel sash encircled the waist and the
white crossbelt was retained by a trefoil cord
shoulder knot. The breeches in blue were decorated
with scarlet 'Austrian' knots on each thigh. The
white waistbelt suspended the light cavalry style
sabre and the sabretache on the left hip. The
sabretache had a blue cloth face edged in yellow
lace with a crowned eagle over crossed cannon in
the centre.
GI Driver, Artillery Train of the Guard, 1812
The driver is shown in tenue de route (marching
order) comprising the shako in oiled skin cover
surmounted by a scarlet ball tuft and a short,
sleeved waistcoat in steel blue with plain cuffs.
The overalls were in the same colour material
and reinforced on the inside of each leg and
around the bottoms with black leather. A cross-
belt worn over the left shoulder supported a
pouch on the back and a sabre was suspended
from a waistbelt.
G2 Gunner, Horse Artillery of the Line, 1812
The gunner wears the short habit kinski adopted
in 1812 wi th scarlet patches to the collar and
fringed epaulettes. The shako was trimmed with
scarlet cord and flounders and the top edge was
encircled with a scarlet band oflace and decorated
with a national cockade and cord loop. The
overalls 'or pantalons acheval were buttoned on the
outside of the leg and reinforced on the inner side
and around the bottoms with black leather. The
waistbelt suspended a sword and the crossbelt a
pouch in the centre of the back.
G3 Driver, Artillery Train of the Line, 1813
Drivers still wore the steel blue coat with blue
collar and round cuffs with steel-blue flap and
white metal buttons. The turnbacks were also
dark blue edged white and adorned with em-
broidered grenades in white. The breeches were
dark buff and worn tucked into heavy riding
boots. The shako was black with steel-grey ball
tuft and white metal chinscales and plate. White
crossbelts suspended a short sword and a black
HI Officer, Horse Artillery of the Line, 1813
The officer shown wears the heavy riding coat
and cape in dark blue cloth. This garment was
often used on campaign. The lower edge of the
cape was trimmed in gold lace and helped to
distinguish an officer. The cocked hat, which was
often worn, had gold wire 'pulls' and scarlet
plume. The blue pantaloons were decorated with
rank chevrons and the black boots trimmed in
gold lace.
H2 Gunner, Foot Artillery of the Line, 1815
This figure shows the appearance of a gunner
during the 'Hundred Days'. The shako is simple,
without cording and with a small triangular
plate, although many gunners who retained their
old plates wore them. The short coat, closed to
the waist, was in blue and piped scarlet with the
same colour turnbacks adorned with blue cloth
grenades. Fringed epaulettes were worn by those
who had them, but shoulder straps were more
common. Blue breeches were worn with black
knee gaiters, and the rest of the equipment was
as before.
H3 Gunner, Foot Artillery of the Guard, 1814
The bearskin cap was peculiar to the artillery
branch of the Guard, with its brass chinscales,
black leather peak, red cloth patch and gold
embroidered grenade. It was an imposing head-
dress destined to be copied by many armies, with
its scarlet plume on the left side fitted in a national
cockade. The long coat continued to be worn by
the Guard after 1812 when the shorter coat was
issued; it was piped in scarlet with scarlet cuffs
and turnbacks, worn over a blue waistcoat and
breeches. White gaiters were worn (black on
service) as were the usual crossbelt arrangement
and a knapsack on the back with rolled coat. The
short sword or briquet had a scarlet sword knot.
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